Advice on half improvement

Hello all

Ive been lurking around these parts for a little while, picking up lots of helpful tips etc from the knowledgable folk on these forums and have finally plucked up the courage to post image

I have recently completed my second half marathon and am definitely a long distance running convert.  My first in March was in 1:35 off about 20 mpw since december 2013, this weekends was 1:30 off an average 30-35 mpw. Also recently did a 5k in 18:30 but am very eager to improve. 

My next half is in October and was looking to follow a schedule roughly as follows;

m - 5 easy

t - 9 miles easy

w - cross training/ core work 

th - tempo session about 8 in total including wu and cd 

f - 4 easy

s - 13-15 easy

s - rest/ couple easy hours on road bike

easy runs currently in 8 mins pm, tempo about 6:35 ish.


Would anyone out there have any suggestions/ recommendations to adopt or does it look like I could get some improvement out of this?


many thanks!



  • Hi mate,

    I have just signed up for my first half but it is only in a month's time so don't have long to prepare! I was scouting around for advice and came across this thread. I am hoping to do it in around 1:24 (currently do a 5k in sub 18 and generally run about 35 miles per week).

    I am new to running so please do not take my advice as gospel, but my first impression was you had too many easy runs in your week. Below is my typical week and what I hope is an expert will pop along and critique both of our plans and offer some advice!!!

    Mon: Core work in gym (am)

            Track session (pm): varies from things such as:

             -16 x 400m @ 1:20 (40s recovery)

            - 8 x 800m @ 2:45 (1m 15s recovery)

             - 5 x 1km @ 3:30 (1m 30 recovery)

    *Now that I have signed up to a half I will change these intervals to something like 5 x 1,600 @ 6:00 pace


    Tue: recovery jog to work (am) 8.5 miles (8min miles or even slower if feeling fatigued from track session)

             tempo run home from work (pm) 8.5 miles (usually at lower end of tempo pace as legs feel a bit tired from morning jog - roughly 7-7:10 pace


    Wed: rest (may go for a bike ride or swim) followed by 30 minutes of stretching / foam roller 


    Thu: Track session (sessions vary week on week but is about 6miles long in total and includes 200m / 400m / 800m reps all mixed up (same ave pace as Monday)


    Fri: Shorter tempo run - about 5-6 miles at 6:45-7:00 pace followed by about 30-45 mins of S & C work in the gym (squats/lunges/deadlifts/chin ups/ chest press etc)


    Sat: 5km warm up lap in 20-21mins 

           5km parkrun race in 17:45-18:30 depending on how I feel


    Sun: Rest

    total mileage = 35 or so miles

    In an ideal world I would like to rest on Friday and do a nice long easy 20 miler on Sunday but family commitments prevent this!

    Oh also forgot to add I cycle to work everyday (apart from Tuesday obviously) which is 80 miles in total.


    So our main differences are you do not have any interval/speed work and no race pace work.


    Not sure if any of that is beneficial to you but at least it gives you something to compare.

    I'm not part of a running club or anything and train alone so the above training plan I have adapted for myself and have been doing it for about 6 months now. It seems to work for me but who knows I may be doing it all wrong!





  • Alright mate? Cheers for the reply. Ive perhaps been a bit conservative with the quality in favour of trying to up the mileage in the first instance fairly carefully. Would be nice to return to the track though!

    Good effort on the 5k time, would love a sub 18!

    as you say hopefully some expert will come along and point us both in the right direction image

  • literatinliteratin ✭✭✭

    I am not an expert, but by amazing coincidence I ran my first two halves in similar times to Runneralex and my most recent one in JB's target time, so can claim some experience, if not knowledge. I prefer Alex's programme myself; JB's seems to have too much quality and especially the three days in a row (even though the Friday session is not very fast).

    Also, JB, what you call your 'tempo' pace looks very slow (somewhere nebulously in between marathon pace and easy pace) for your 5k time and HM time goal. Which is probably just as well given that you're hammering the hard sessions and hardly doing any easy running.

    My best improvements came from higher mileage and more of it easy.

  • DT19DT19 ✭✭✭

    Jb, your longest run appears to be 8.5m??? I can see why you do relatively well at 5k but would be very surprised if you converted well to half distance.b

    I'd prefer Alex's plan but maybe add a bit more quality in perhaps within Tuesdays 9. 


  • Not an expert but in a similar position, Alex, training for an autumn half. Well done on the 1:30. From my perspective Alex, I agree with JB, if it were me, I would like to see a bit more marathon and half marathon pace in there. Your one quality session of the week seems a bit light if you take warm up and cool down out of that mileage.I would make one other session a marathon pace session to build speed endurance and your big quality session to hit 10k paces and below built around some mp/hmp stuff too. I would also try to work some hills into the long run and occasionally (say once a month) throw in some hill reps.

    JB, if 70 is the year of your birth you're the same age as me and that seems a massive amount of quality at my age (perhaps any age). Maybe all the cycling base supports it. I am running 35 -40 mpw and fitting in one quality session around 10k in volume typically (excluding WU and CD) and skipping the quality if I'm racing (including parkrun) these days. I used to do more but have seen the error of my ways (and too many physios).

    So I'm also interested in the expert advice that will come along really soon now.
  • Damn x-post ! The experts arrived before me.image
  • literatinliteratin ✭✭✭

    You can't mean me and DT unless it took you an hour to write your post... image

  • I do, and it did; I started typing on my phone and then got distracted, finally posted and then saw your replies too.


  • Many thanks for the replies. 

    if I made the 9 mile a progression run to hmp would this assist? Also I could add some 1k reps to the main quality session of the week in 10k/ 5k pace?

    As far as training paces go, Im planning on working off the following

    easy - 8.10-8.30

    Mp - 7.09

    hmp- 6.55

    tempo - 6.44

    10k - 6.20ish


  • Thanks for all the replies!

    I was born in 1987 not 1970 so still a spring chicken! image...I don't even know where JB70 came from to be honest.

    Ok back to training- thanks for all the advice. I may change my schedule then to something like:

    Mon: core (am) track intervals (pm) - 5miles

    Tue: easy run to work (am) @ 7:45-8:00 pace - 8.5 miles


           tempo run from work (pm) ensure keep to near HM target pace 6:30

    Wed: rest (ideally would like to squeeze in S & C work on this day??)

    Thu: Long easy run 15miles??? include some bursts at HM race pace????

    Fri: Tempo run - 5miles at HM pace (6:30) or 10km pace (6:15)?? 

    Sat: warm up 3 miles easy

           Parkrun @ max effort

    Sun: complete rest


    Easy: 27 miles incl 1 long run at 15 miles (55% of total mileage)

    Tempo: 14 miles at HM pace 6:30 or 10km pace (6:15) (29% of total)

    Interval: 5 miles (10% total)

    Race: 3 miles (6% total)

    That will take me to nearly 50 miles per week due to swapping intervals for 15 mile long run.

    Advice Please image

    1) is 15 mile easy run about right and would you include 1 mile bursts at target HM pace or do all 15 miles at 7:45-8:00?

    2) is the split between all the runs about right?

    3) is there suitable rest in there or am I trying to cram in too much? (please bear in mind I can only train first thing in the morning and not on a Sunday)

    4) anything else you notice that doesn't look right


    My main aim is to keep up with the 5km parkruns and enter a few more 10ks and 1/2 marathons. No current interest in full marathons.

    Thanks again everyone and Alex apologies for semi hijacking your thread!


  • DT19DT19 ✭✭✭

    thats still 45% quality which is too much. Your body needs recovery and easy sessions to absorb the harder stuff otherwise you will become the running equivalent of the workplace busy fool.

    On your long run, you need to safely build up to 15 miles from where you are now. If the longest you run is 8.5 then to get to 15 ought to take you a good 12-16 weeks doing it sensibly. You certainly dont need to add any bursts into the long run with everything else going on.

    Threshold work should be done at current threshold not target pace as well. You need to train for where you are now, not where you want to be. Also on your mileage I dont see that you need to run twice in a day. I think a dowble 8.5m day Tuesday is broadly pointless, especially after a track session monday. How about a recovery run tuesday and a tempo run wednesday, long run Thursday and rest Friday before attacking parkrun, then perhaps do some easy miles after it, rest sunday and start again Monday?


  • Thanks DT19, really appreciate that and it makes complete sense! 

    I'm going to go away and start a new plan. Probably will be too late to make a difference for the 1/2 Marathon in 4 weeks time but hopefully I will see long term gains!

    Thanks again,


  • DT19DT19 ✭✭✭

    the half should be a good platform to work from and assuming you dont have a huge drop off in last few miles, will give you some idea of threshold and other training paces for longer stuff. Might be worth taking a note of your time at around 10m as well (in case there is a drop off) as that is a good indication of threshold for tempo runs.

  • No probs at all JB70, we re broadly after the same thing so it's all good, hijack away!

    Giving Daniels Running Formula a look this eve for some decent quality sessions, will report back if I find anything good.

  • So had my first half today which i only entered 5 weeks ago so didn't exactly have a good training block behind me!!

    I took on the advice given above and changed my weekly schedule big time incorporating a lot more easy/slow runs and taking out the harder stuff. I must say i noticed a vast improvement after incorporating this so thanks guys really appreciated!!

    Anyways i managed to just duck under 1hr 25mins (1:24:51) so really pleased all things considered. Think with a proper training block behind me i could go a lot quicker.

    Hope yours goes well.

    Best regards,

  • Bastard, you beat my PB by one second.

  • Just seen this James. Really well done. My half number 1 of 2 is coming up in a couple of weeks and so far I have followed my own advice. Fingers crossed.

    Which half are you doing Alex ?

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